- cheshimb

# Teaching Mixed Numbers and Improper Fractions

Updated: Aug 22, 2021

Once students understand regular fractions (aka "proper fractions"), the next leap is mastering improper fractions and mixed numbers. I emphasize to my third grade students that regular fractions are always *less than* a whole, and mixed numbers/improper fractions are *more than* a whole. **Like fractions, it's good for students to see mixed numbers in a variety of ways.** Here are some teaching resources to model mixed numbers with both real life examples and fraction models!

**1. Identify Real World Mixed Numbers**

Make fractions **real** to students by showing them lots of different real world examples! Using concrete objects like food, stickers, and play dough makes fractions relatable and fun. **I made a 15-slide powerpoint with real, color photos of food and objects that can be described using mixed numbers.** Each slide clearly defines what is one whole before asking the question. Example: "If one dozen donuts equals one whole, describe these doughnuts as a mixed number". This is a great activity to provide elementary students with concrete visuals to help them understand mixed numbers. This teaching resource also includes a PDF and Google Slides version to assist with virtual learning needs.

**2. Make Fraction Models with Virtual Manipulatives**

This __website__ from NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) allows you to create a model and labels it four different ways: improper fraction, mixed number, decimal, and percent. (You can click on where it says "Area" in the lower right-hand corner to change the type of models).

You can also use virtual manipulatives on __ABCya.com__ to model mixed numbers and improper fractions. If you click on the gear icon, you can change the fraction strips to circle fraction models.

**3. Color Models of Mixed Numbers and Improper Fractions **

These __practice pages__ provide another format for elementary kids to practice modeling improper fractions and mixed numbers. The blank models provide scaffolding (easier than drawing the shapes yourself!) so **students simply need to color in the correct amount of fractional pieces to model each mixed number or improper fraction**. Simple but effective! You can peek over a student's shoulder and see whether or not they understand the concepts. These are also great remediation for students who need more practice with the concepts.

**4. Make a Fraction Picture**

This __free resource__ is inspired by Ed Emberley's book __Picture PIe__. The full circle equals one whole and there are templates included in the resource for halves, fourths, and eighths. Students can use their creativity to make a picture out of the fraction pieces, and then describe their picture using a mixed number. This could also be great for a bulletin board or classroom display!

What strategies help you teach mixed numbers and improper fractions? I'd love to hear your ideas!